Time to revamp player awards
This week we had the nominations for FIFA world player of the year, discovered the winner of the FIFPro world player of the year and mulled the contenders for the Ballon d’Or.
Exactly how many gongs do we need? In the recent past the situation was a bit clearer.
The Ballon d’Or was originally just for Europeans (hence the foreign language-challenged English calling it the European player of the year). In 1995 magazine France Football, which runs the award, decided any player playing in Europe could win it and since 2007 any footballer in the world is eligible (although it will surely be rare for a player not playing with a European side to win).
This means the only remaining distinction between the Ballon d’Or and FIFA world player award is the people who vote. National team coaches and captains vote in the FIFA version and learned soccer journalists from across the globe decide the Ballon d’Or winner.
If this is supposed to create different results, it didn’t work last year as AC Milan’s Brazilian Kaka won both. In fact he took home the 2007 FIFPro award too, which in some people’s eyes may be considered the best award, despite being relatively unknown, as it was voted for by his fellow professional players from across the world.
Cristiano Ronaldo won this year’s FIFPro on Monday and the odds are he will win the Ballon d’Or and FIFA gong as well.
How boring. Either we just have one award that everyone agrees is the creme de la creme or we split the three up somehow, like it was when the Ballon’ d’Or was just for Europeans.
Alternatively we could differentiate the awards on age criteria or do it by position.
Fabio Cannavaro took the two main awards in 2006 but was the first defender to win both in the same year. Forwards score great goals and are more flamboyant but does that mean they should be rewarded more than goalkeepers, defenders and hard-working midfielders?
Kevin remarked that Andres Iniesta should have been included in the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or. Lionel Messi, a top contender this year, agreed with him. “Iniesta is missing and I don’t understand why. He is a genius,” Barcelona’s Argentina wizard said this week.
Unheralded Xavi was named best player at Euro 2008 and it was widely-regarded as a shrewd choice by UEFA but the winners of these gongs always seem to come from the team that has triumphed in the big international competition that year or the Champions League.
The clubs have already been given their trophies, they don’t need another one.
Having said all that, I’ve no idea who I would choose for FIFA world player this year. Have you?
PHOTO: Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo kisses the golden boot trophy awarded to him as ‘FIFPro Player of the Year 2008′ in a presentation ahead of their Premier League match against West Ham at Old Trafford, Oct. 28. REUTERS/Toby Melville